Time for a new state of climate

Posted: Monday, November 27, 2000

I hate to be the one to say this, but we need to subdivide Alaska. I love the shape and diversity of our state as much if not more than the next guy, but there is a compelling reason to split it up. It's climate credibility. Yes, it happened to me again and probably happens to Alaskans all the time. I was in Albuquerque recently, waiting for a ride to the airport with another woman. I asked where she was from, she said Fargo. My eyes lit up and I asked all about her blizzards, extreme cold and general flat whiteness. She glowed with pride as she told me all about it, the months of cold, dark, beastly cold wind, huge snow drifts and loss of livestock and hapless travelers. At least there aren't any tornados in the winter. Oo, I said, how do you do it? Then she asked me where I was from, I said Alaska, she gave me a piercing, contemptuous look and the conversation was over. "I mean South Alaska, the very south part," I cried. I tried to explain all about the latitude, coastal maritime climate, the Pacific and the mountains. I whipped out a map and felt pen and chased after her while marking in the ocean currents and wind patterns . . . too late, she was lost to me and I was deceiving scum for letting her tell her frozen north story before revealing that I was from Alaska.

The only reasonable thing to do is split our marvelously huge state into five states based on climate. What if I had told the Fargo woman that I was from Rain Cycle or Mist? Oo, she would coo, how many raincoats do you have? Do you commute by boat? Very different reaction than if I said I live in Giant Cabbage. The point is, we all spend a large percentage of our vacation or business travel time explaining climates, relative degrees of winter and the midnight sun thing. I really can't do it without a map, preferably a globe, and a couple slide trays. Yes, I do always take a map.

There are problems with the split, like four more stars on the flag. So, hey, what a good time to revisit making Puerto Rico, BC or Cuba a state to even the number. I don't even want to think about the need for four more legislatures-- it would be necessary for just about everyone to serve sooner or later. Actually, that could be a cool model for the rest of the country in civic participation. Maybe all students could serve a term as part of their high school career. On the positive side, we wouldn't have to fight over the same pot of federal money. I realize you can't go any further with this until we clear up the oil income problem. We form a coop before the split, ok? Can we proceed? You want to know who gets our congressional delegation? Duh, lottery. Point of order, on to marketing.

I am willing to bet that large tour companies would pay well for influence in naming the regions of the state formerly known as Alaska. Imagine the coolness of actually naming the tour destination you are selling! The dot com potential, associated designer product lines, slogans, songs and foods are a gold mine.

I could get to work on this right now, actually. Sure it would be a big time investment, but think of all the time I would save on vacation not doing the slide show and explaining whose butts freeze and whose rust.

Nita Nettleton lives, works and writes in Juneau.

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